Bowling Green, KY (November 17, 2022) – Since its inception, Connected Nation has been working tirelessly to achieve universal broadband access. Through mapping, working with communities on broadband planning, and providing innovative solutions, Connected Nation is helping to raise the awareness about the Digital Divide across the country. Our work has recently been cited in a global report on digital equity and inclusion.
In 2022, Devex and Visa surveyed nearly 1,200 global development professionals and 31 leaders in digital financial inclusion. The resulting report “explores the challenges and opportunities to achieve equitable and inclusive participation in the digital economy, particularly to create or enhance livelihood opportunities.”
It is no secret that the Digital Divide is one of our world’s most important challenges in 2022 and beyond. It places at-risk communities in a state of disconnect. The long-term effects of digital inequity include the inability to manage finances, complete a modern education, use telehealth services, find employment, or work many jobs. In addition, at-risk communities can’t access common digital activities, such as accessing entertainment, shopping online, doing basic research, and participating in interpersonal communication.
At Connected Nation, our mission is closing the Digital Divide. However, this does not stop at simply raising awareness for at-risk communities or bringing broadband to underserved areas. The first step is to supply the means for low-income and rural areas to access broadband, and then provide the tools to use it effectively. Webinars, local champions, and trainings are all ways to prepare and upskill these communities to help them further their educations, find telework jobs, seek telehealth services and plug in to an ever-advancing society.
A champion for digital equity
Connected Nation is proud to be spotlighted in the Devex/Visa report as an effective case study of a local approach to bridging the Digital Divide. The report states:
“U.S.-based nonprofit Connected Nation takes a data-driven and community-led approach to digital inclusion and skills delivery. The organization helps communities assess local broadband access, adoption, and use. Using data gathered from the study, the organization helps them design local technology plans addressing the gaps. If developing digital skills is identified as a need, communities are encouraged to work with local anchor institutions to develop local digital skills training initiatives.”
Connected Nation’s Vice President of Digital Inclusion, Heather Gate, was asked to share her knowledge and experience for this report. She suggested that that the U.S. government’s Affordable Connectivity Program — which stipulates that low-income households receive discounted broadband services — could provide a model for other countries that are looking to solve similar issues.
“When deploying broadband infrastructure, it is imperative to also prioritize digital equity and inclusion so that nobody is excluded because of issues related to affordability,” she said.
One of the hurdles for digitally marginalized communities is a lack of trust in financial institutions online. This mistrust can stem from the fear of phishing, cyber criminals, and predatory lenders. Gate offered a solution on how to combat this issue.
“With minority communities, you have to partner with trusted local champions – individuals that have a deep understanding of local experiences,” she said.
Gate’s vision of a trusted local champion giving these communities the self-confidence to connect, browse, and become active online has been earmarked as one of the key findings in the report.
Everyone at Connected Nation is encouraged by the work of Devex and Visa in this report, and it will only serve to motivate the bright minds in this industry, like our own Heather Gate, to work harder. Serving those in need, providing innovative solutions, and empowering those recently plugged in, Connected Nation will not rest until the Digital Divide is closed, and there is reliable internet for all.
Check out the link to the full report below:
About the Author: Grant Ahlbrand is a Communications and Marketing Intern for Connected Nation. Grant provides support to the Communications division of Connected Nation. Grant also assists with writing, company blogs and social media posting, website editing, and bringing creativity to new and existing communications materials.
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